How MKO Abiola raised Fifty Million Dollars for Presidential Election

MKO Abiola; The Enigma

“Good morning Chief Abiola! It is so nice to see
you”

Moshood’s
driver, sounding excited, greeted him as he appeared in the arrival hall of the
Charles
de Gaulle International airport
in Paris. But after a closer look at
his boss, his tone changed sharply. “Sir
you look so exhausted
. Didn’t you get
any sleep on the plane?”
Moshood laughed
faintly. He handed over his briefcase to the very tall and pale-looking man
with broad shoulders before saying quietly, “It
is nice to see you, as well”.
 Both
men shook hands and began walking toward the exit before Moshood added
regretfully, “You are right. I am
exhausted because I did not sleep at all on the plane. But if you drive
smoothly on the way to London, I am sure I will get some sleep”
His driver had
another idea. “Are you in a hurry to get
to London?”
he asked. “If the answer
is no then why don’t you spend the night in Paris? There are a lot of hotels on
the Champs Elysees that are as good as the Savoy. After a solid rest, you can
even do some sightseeing”

MKO & his loving Kudi

 He had mentioned the Savoy because that was Moshood’s
favorite hotel in London. Having a big house in London had never stopped him from spending days in the Savoy. Moshood smiled in
appreciation before admitting solemnly, “What
a wonderful idea! But the timing is wrong. If only you knew what was on my
mind, you would have advised me to do some soul- searching instead of
sightseeing”.

The GDA meets Abdul Jamiu Abiodun Abiola on Dad’s book

His driver did
not utter a word after that. They walked for several minute before they reached
Moshood’s
Rolls
Royce
. It was neat and sparkling and seemed new. But for the first
time, to his driver’s surprise, Moshood entered it without thanking
him for keeping it in such good condition. Once inside, as the journey began, Moshood
saw the latest editions of his favorite magazines on the back seat. Although
the headline covers were catchy, all he wanted to do was sleep. He soon fell
into a deep slumber that, to his dismay, lasted only two hours.
“Money would be needed, he acknowledged-plenty of
it- in order to influence the delegates. But how much was he willing to spend?
He had heard talk of the military government’s plan to assist each of the
presidential aspirants with twenty million naira (the equivalent of ten million dollars then). He laughed
at the thought, wondering whether that amount would be even enough for the
primaries. And then there was another issue that bothered him that morning”
MKO Abiola; The Star Boy from Abeokuta

Once he was
fully awake, his mind shifted to his political agenda. His primary concern in
the car that morning was his political party, the SDP, one of Nigeria’s two
political parties then. How would he win its presidential primaries? Until
recently the military president had banned all former politicians, including Moshood,
from participating in politics, which had given the advantage to a new breed of
politicians. He would have to overcome the influence of this group, which was
now a bigger challenge because some of its members, after recently becoming
governors, had formed a powerful and formidable bloc within the party. Moshood
feared that they might even be powerful enough to decide the winner of the
presidential primaries.

IBB

Money would be
needed, he acknowledged-plenty of it- in order to influence the delegates. But
how much was he willing to spend? He had heard talk of the military
government’s plan to assist each of the presidential aspirants with twenty
million naira (the equivalent of ten million dollars then). He laughed
at the thought, wondering whether that amount would be even enough for the
primaries. And then there was another issue that bothered him that morning.

Late General Musa Shehu Yar’ Adua; He was angry with MKO over Jos Primaries

The military
president, through a set of decrees, had the power to cancel the electoral
process for any reason he saw fit. As a matter of fact he had done that before,
and had ruined many politicians financially. Even after the primaries, the
state security service (SSS) was still empowered to re-screen victorious
candidates and recommend their disqualification. All of a sudden, Moshood
was having a sharp headache. He took some Panadol
and tried to sleep but he was not able to until they had arrived in London. Once at home he went straight to
his room and slept.

The Author Abdul Jamiu Abiodun Abiola tells the GDA the Story of Dad’s rise from nothing to something

Moshood woke up after
almost twelve hours. He was glad to discover that his fears, like a whirlwind,
had disappeared by then. He rose and walked around his room energetically for a
while. He sat back on his bed then removed his diary from his briefcase and
started making some important calls. He called his key bankers in the United
Kingdom
, one after the other, to notify them of his plans and to tell
them that he would visit them within two days to discuss the modalities of
funding his campaign with some of his holdings in Europe. As an
accountant, such matters were easy for him. It was his generosity and the fact
that it might prevent him from keeping his expenses within reasonable limits
that gave him some concern. Although he knew that he had helped many Nigerians
from all walks of life over the years, he was certain that he would still have
to spend a lot of money on his campaign.

The Book of MKO Abiola by Jamiu Abiola

That same day he
decided not to allow his expenditures to exceed fifty million dollars. A
part of him was sad, as he reflected on his independent and luxurious life as a
businessman, because he knew that a peaceful and predictable era was about to
end.
 (Excerpts from the book, The
President Who Never Ruled
by Jamiu
Abiola; get copies in any book shop
across the world or write Jamiu Abiola through
[email protected]. Read Day MKO got Yar Adua, IBB angry in Jos in our next post
on this blog)

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